Rafael Nadal returns to Laver Cup!

Rafael Nadal will play the Laver Cup for the fourth time in September in Berlin

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal returns to Laver Cup!
© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The seventh edition of the Laver Cup will take place in Berlin between September 20-22. A 22-time Major winner Rafael Nadal returns to the competition, defending the colors of Team Europe and seeking his third Laver Cup trophy, the first since Geneva 2019.

The Spaniard has been struggling with injuries for almost two years, playing only four tournaments since the beginning of 2023 and dropping out from the top-600. The veteran is trying to extend his career and end it on his terms, and he wishes to compete at the Laver Cup again.

Nadal entered the first Laver Cup in Prague in 2017, playing alongside Roger Federer on Day 2 and celebrating a trophy with his great rival. Rafa returned two years later in Geneva and took down Milos Raonic on Day 2.

Rafael Nadal & Roger Federer, Laver Cup 2022© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Nadal should have played alongside Federer again.

However, he withdrew from the competition, unprepared for more competitive matches. Rafa played his first match after winning the 19th Major title at the US Open and ousted Milos 6-3, 7-6 in two hours and seven minutes, sending Team Europe 7-3 in front.

Nadal denied all eight break points in the opening set. He delivered three breaks and sealed the deal in straight sets. The Canadian fired 13 aces and played well behind the first serve. However, he struggled behind the second serve and suffered a loss despite solid resistance.

Ranoc had the upper had in the early stages but could not seize his chances. Nadal denied eight break points in three consecutive service games, remaining on the positive side and gaining a boost. The Spaniard fired a backhand down the line winner in the seventh game, clinching a break and moving 4-3 in front.

Rafa cemented the lead with a hold in game eight and made another push on the return at 5-3. Milos played a loose volley, suffering the second straight break and dropping the opener after 55 minutes. The Canadian secured his only return game at 2-2 in the second set, looking good to force a decider.

Instead, the Spaniard pulled the break back a few minutes later with a volley winner, locking the result at 3-3. The returners had no chance in the next six games, and the rivals introduced a tie break. Rafa grabbed three mini-breaks and served well, clinching it 7-1 and sealing the deal.

Rafael Nadal, Laver Cup 2022© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal will play the Laver Cup in Berlin in September.

Nadal's most recent Laver Cup match came in 2022, competing alongside Roger Federer in the Swiss' farewell match!

On one of the most emotional nights in tennis history, Nadal and Federer joined forces for the last time and faced Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock. Federer asked Nadal to come to London and play against him, a call the Spaniard could not refuse despite dealing with an abdominal injury.

The veterans produced their magic and created a match point against the Americans before falling 6-4, 7-6, 11-9 after two hours and 13 minutes. As was expected, Rafa struggled behind the initial shot. He served in game nine of the opener, and Roger denied a break point, keeping Team Europe on the positive side.

Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal, Laver Cup 2022© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

They broke Tiafoe at 5-4, closing the opener and gaining a boost. Nadal lost serve in the third game of the second set, and the Americans forged a 3-1 lead.

Rafa and Roger pulled the break back in game six, returning to the positive side and hoping for more chances in the rest of the set. Federer and Nadal prevailed in the 11th game for a 6-5 lead and had a chance to seal the deal in the next one.

The Americans stood two points from the loss before Sock closed the game and introduced a tie break. Jack and Frances opened a 5-2 gap after Roger's loose forehand and clinched the breaker 7-2 for more drama and excitement.

Rafa stepped in and helped his team build a 3-0 advantage in the match tie break. The Americans grabbed the following four points, moving in front after Sock's incredible point that gave them a boost. Jack sent Team World 5-4 up after another crafty stroke before Rafa locked the result at 5-5 with an unreturned serve.

Federer kept Team Europe alive with a volley winner in the 14th point, and he and Nadal created a match point after Tiafoe's loose backhand at 8-8. The Americans denied it and moved 10-9 in front after Frances' service winner.

Sock sealed the deal for Team World with a forehand down the line winner, sending Roger Federer into a well-deserved retirement.

Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal, Laver Cup 2022© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Nadal could not consider the Laver Cup a year ago due to an injury, and he hopes to step on the court in Berlin in five months.

Rafa claimed two Major titles in the first half of 2022 and has struggled ever since, playing less than 20 matches since August that year! Nadal missed almost the entire 2023 before returning in the first week of 2024 in Brisbane.

Dealing with more injuries and setbacks, Rafa stayed away from the court for 100 days before returning to action in Barcelona last week. The veteran will compete in Madrid, hoping to improve his physical shape and prepare for Roland Garros, his ultimate goal.

Rafael Nadal Laver Cup